tv History of the State of the Union Address CSPAN January 10, 2016 11:45pm-12:01am EST
>> you're watching american history tv. every weekend on c-span3. follow us for information on her schedule and to keep up with the latest american history news. ,> i have the great pleasure the high privilege, and the great honor of presenting to you the president of the united states. >> i'm the senate historian. the state of the union message is mandated by the constitution in the words that from time to time the president of the united states should give a message to congress on the state of the union and recommendations of
programs that should be followed.
george washington began that practice of giving a state of the union message to congress when the first congress met. washington went in person to the congress and delivered the speech that had a series of recommendations, relatively short speech. in those days they actually used to cut the state of the
union message up into paragraphs and create committees to address each one of the issues the president suggested. washington and adams followed that practice. they created this idea that from time to time was an annual message. the years it was known as the annual message. it didn't become known as the
state of the union message until the 1940's. in 1948 there was a hollywood movie called state of the union. that cemented the idea that it was the state of the union message. washington and adams went in person to congress. ,'s jefferson didn't enjoy public speaking. he gave to public speeches while presidents. his first and his second inaugural address. jefferson like to be known as a writer, not a speaker. he got the idea of the president going to congress personally to deliver a list of things he wanted to see done was too much like the british king, the monarch going to parliament. he thought this was not appropriate for a republic. jefferson sent his message to
congress. each year after that they would send their messages which would be read by the clerks of the senate. rather than by the president. they would read in the congressional record or the newspapers. they didn't have to listen to a clerk or read the message. that became the tradition. the constitution is not that specific about what it is. time to time, this needs to be given on the state of the union. in 1913 we had a new president to have been trained as a political scientist. he had a phd in political science. woodrow wilson written a dissertation about congress and congressional government. one of the things he felt was the american president needed to be more like the british prime minister. he couldn't be separate from the legislative branch.
he had to be the chief legislator and chief executive. wilson decided he would go in person to deliver his message. the first was in 1913. it was not a state of the union per se. they didn't know what to do with it. the president was going to speak to them? they decided they would do in the house chamber and invite the senator is over. there was a lot of grumbling. they probably would not have one of the president to come. the president said he wanted to end the party said ok. he began the tradition of presidents going each year to give their state of the union message. he gave his first state of the union in december of 1913. he continued to do it in person until he was in paris negotiating the end of the first world war. he telegraphed his message back to congress in 1919. since then presidents have followed.
the only who has not given a state of the union message in person was herbert hoover who was not a great public speaker, didn't think much of the occasion and just sent his message out. almost every other president has felt that this is too good an opportunity to mess, -- to miss, not to go in person, to have the drama of the situation to give an address to congress. >> the president of the united states. [applause] >> this is the point when everybody and congress was sitting there listening to you. the cap med is there. diplomats are there. it is a major moment coming together. the only other occasion is the inauguration. >> i propose we begin a massive attack on crippling and killing diseases.
>> i should propose to this congress a $10 billion nationwide clean waters program to that modern municipal waste treatment plants in every place in america where they are needed to make waters cleaned again and do it now. [applause] >> it does influence the legislative agenda for the year whether or not congress chooses to follow the president suggestions or ignores them, or rewrites them. at least the president has given an outline of what he wants to see. sometimes the president's never got a chance to give their inaugural address.
william henry harrison died. congress wasn't going to begin than until december. the seat of union messages were all given it december when the constitution was changed, it moved it to january. now they are usually in january and february. they have been some this qs, president grover cleveland sent a can -- controversial proposal dealing with the tariff. it was one of those things that divided parties and created great passions. unfortunately for cleveland his party was not united on the issue and they lost the next election probably because of that. a lot of people blamed his state of the union message. in most cases, most messages are a long laundry list of things the president wants to see done. they are not controversial speeches. nor are they particularly inspiring. they are wish lists. with anything done in congress, the galleries are open. as long as there are galleries, there have been galleries in the senate since 1795. the public can come in.
but of course, there aren't that many seats in the galleries. there is great demand. each gets a single ticket for a spouse or member of the staff, or favorite constituent, somebody to sit in the gallery. the press gallery is packed. usually the first lady is there with guests of the president. there is not a lot of space in the public. over time, the public has gotten to see this through the media. newspapers covered in general. in the 19 century you would have read the speech in most newspapers. in the 20th century the beginning in 1930, it was broadcast on the radio.
in 1936 franklin roosevelt suggested moving the state of the union from the middle of the day when it was traditionally given to the evening because it would get a larger audience on the radio. in the 1940's it was back to during the day but television came along. harry truman state of the union was covered by television. lyndon johnson said let's move the tv show back into the evening so more people can get to see the state of the union message. now it is an evening performance, live tv, major networks are all covering it. it gets considerable audience that way. and the late 90's, they have been streaming on the internet around the world. in recent years the two parties have become cheerleading squads for their president. there are moments when clearly something the president says inspires something more than just a partisan reaction. there is a bipartisan reaction. you can tell what the mood of the congresses going to be. >> all the world knows that no successful system builds a wall
to keep its people than and freedom out. >> immediately after each members of congress will rush out into statuary hall where there will be dozens of cameras set up for television stations around the country. they will be getting personal reactions immediately. nowadays in the house chamber you can twitter and tweet. some people will be responding instantly. >> mr. speaker, the president, distinguished members of the house and senate, when we met here seven years ago many of us for the first time, it was with the help of beginning something new for america. we meet here tonight in this
historic chamber to continue that work. if anyone expects to put recitation of the administration, let's leave that to history. we are not finished yet. [applause] >> one thing you cannot do is different than most parliaments, heckling is considered fair sport, in the u.s. congress you are to be respectful of the president when he speaks. if you years ago one member of the house did interrupt the president and shout out. he was censured by the house representative for doing that.
that is considered to be unbecoming conduct. >> the reforms would not apply to those here illegally. the office of the constitution believed in transparency and did require, even though they wrote constitution in secret, they required certain things to be open. not everything. they don't require congress to meet an open session. from time to time to publish a journal. the same thing is they don't ask the president to give an annual message. they have been deliver a message on the state of the union. they would be pleased to see the president comes pretty much every year to do this. they would be astonished to realize the congressional record is published every day after the proceedings. knology state of the union message, of the house and senate on the floor of that particular day. that was something they had intended. this was a republic.
it was a democratic republic. it was represented by the people. the people had a right to know what was going on. even though they were not that specific they certainly set goals that the government has met. >> i can report to you the state of this old but youthful union is good. >> president obama released this state of the union address on youtube. great,hat makes america our capacity to change for the better. our ability to come together as one american family. it's hard to see sometimes but it is who we are. and it is what i want to focus
on in this state of the union address. >> c-span coverage starts with the senate historian and james are can back at the history interdiction of the president's annual message and what to expect in this address. then, the republican response by south carolina governor nikki haley. on c-span, c-span radio, and c-span.org. our coverageer ,tarting at 11:00 p.m. eastern also live on c-span two. members ofar from congress with their reaction to the president's address. >> coming up next, coolge